Open Division regional games in football are a thing of the past, the California Interscholastic Federation announced Monday.
Instead, the CIF will now select the best team from the North and best team from the South to bypass the regional finals and compete against each other in the Open Division state championship game.
Since the regional championships were created in 2012, the CIF had been selecting the two best teams in each region to square off in a regional final with the winner earning a spot in the premier state championship game. The issue with that format was that the losers of the Open Division regionals — the second best teams — were not included in the state championships.
Regional championship games for Divisions I-IV will continue.
So what does this mean for East Bay teams? The most obvious team it affects is De La Salle, which has played in and won the NorCal Open Division regional final the last two years. Both wins have come against Folsom. Should the Spartans have another dominant season, we’ll likely see them getting the bye into the Open Division state final.
The new format could also make it harder for other local teams to earn a spot in the regional championships simply because there are now fewer spots to go around.